Tahini, at its best, is simply sesame seeds ground into a rich, smooth paste. The colour can vary from beige to a wet sand colour. The richest tasting is made from Humera seeds, which are the best quality sesame seeds grown in Africa.
If you have followed any of my previous recipes, you’ll know that I don’t really buy into expensive fad foods, and I like to eat locally. But for Tahini, I make an exception. It´s not ridiculously expensive and is extremely diverse and has an abundance of benefits:
Its high in fat- I think we´ve all got the message that not all fat is bad for us! Tahini packs in more healthy fats per teaspoon than its nutty sister peanut butter. It contains Omega 3 which, is an excellent anti-flammatory, helping us to steer clear of chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and ulcerative colitis.
Vitamin B12- Feeling grouchy, or fatigued? You may be lacking vitamin B12. This much talked about vitamin regulates the nervous system, so is essential for your mood and behavior. Many studies are linking dementia to low B12 absorption.
Vitamin E- This is the anti-oxidant vitamin that will block free-radicals from damaging your cells and keep your body from aging. It keeps your skin, eyes and hair healthy too.
Magnesium & Calcium- Magnesium is great for insomnia and to calm you when you´re feeling a little anxious. Magnesium relaxes your muscles whilst Calcium complements its dear friend Magnesium by contracting muscles. Calcium strengthens and hardens our bones, whilst Magnesium provides flexibility and elasticity. They are the perfect balancing act, ensuring you’re not off kilter!
Iron- Deficiency can be extremely common, but don’t worry tahini will help boost your levels ensuring oxygen reaches all of our organs, which prevents us from being fatigued. When we are fatigued our bodies aren’t working properly, which can lead to brain fuzz to not being able to fight off infections.
Many supermarkets now stock tahini, but if you want a pure, toasty tasting one, you may need to visit your health food store. It only requires a small investment and your jar will last for around a year (unless you wolf it, like I tend to, and in which case it will get used up way before!)
Most people tend to immediately think of hummus, which is my staple tahini dish. But you can make loads of yummy things with it. Here are just a few ideas:
Green Tahini Dip – blend tahini, coriander, garlic, lemon juice and a bit of water for an alternative to hummus or use as a mayo on your favorite sandwich
Tahini Flapjacks – An all time fave! Use any nuts and seeds that you have (I love pumpkin, chia, walnuts and almonds), dates and oats, all chopped and mixed together. Heat tahini and honey in a large pan to form a gooey paste before adding the dry mixture. Transfer into a greased baking dish and cook for around 15 minutes.
Hummus- Blend chickpeas, garlic, cumin, salt, olive oil and of course, tahini with a good squeeze of lemon juice. A tahini classic.
Tahini Date Balls – blend cashews (or other nuts), dates and tahini paste to make this tasty snack. I like to roll mine in chopped nuts, like almonds.
Tahini Toast – Move away from the Nutella! Spread tahini with honey, a pinch of salt and cinnamon on your toast instead.
Join us in 2018 on one of our 3 day retreats in Denia, Alicante and enjoy the benefits of yoga, sunshine, healthy food and good company. Life changing vacations…
Many people rank fear of public speaking or glossophobia, as their number one dread. The number two is death! The thought of giving a speech in public, the fear of being judged or of making a mistake, and even the most competent business person’s knees turn to jelly. It’s totally understandable, but it can also be detrimental to living your life and doing what you love.
In my life before teaching yoga, the very thought of having to deliver a speech, set my knees knocking. I dreaded it. It might only be a five minute presentation, but there was nothing worse that could be asked of me. I’d be thinking about it, morning, noon and night. What if I cock up, what if I let my team down, or what if I fluff my words. So, I would take all the advice, prepare loads, even do the, ‘imagine the audience naked’ thing, but come the day, I would still be quaking in my size sixes.
Nowadays, conversely, I spend up to three hours a day, talking in front of groups of people, and I absolutely love it. I also teach in a foreign language without flinching. So what’s changed to enable me do a complete, three-sixty ?
Practice obviously helps. The fact that I do it daily has been a kind of aversion therapy. But most importantly, I realized that the anticipation and imagined fears of disaster were way worse than doing the speech. I let my mind get the better of me, and if I could have just relaxed, and realized that my fears were irrational and all in my mind, maybe I could have enjoyed it back then too.
What would have been worse though, is if I would have allowed my glossophobia to affect my future career choices. If I would have let fear beat me, I wouldn’t be doing what I do now, a job that I love, a job which demands that I regularly do what I used to dread.
Fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real, and almost certainly, whatever it is that we’re frightened of won’t happen. When you step into your fear, you realize that it is all just imagined, just a figment of an over-active imagination–and that your effort to face your fears can easily succeed.
What will you accomplish once you stop fear getting the better of you, when you burn off that fear-fog and put yourself ‘out there?’ What will it feel like to face and to be free of that fear?
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
– Jim Morrison
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.’
“The key to change… is to let go of fear.”
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh
“Have no fear of perfection–you’ll never reach it.”
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
–Louisa May Alcott
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
– Marcus Aurelius.
“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.”
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
– John Lennon
Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
– C. JoyBell C.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb
If you’ve always wanted to try a yoga holiday, but the fear of coming alone or the unknown has prevented you, bite the bullet and book one of our yoga weekends in 2018
Feel Great Breaks- Life changing yoga vacations
Our sincerest apologies for not getting this to you in time for Christmas, but you will be in plenty of time to make a stocking filler for 2018!
These cute Rudolf stocking fillers are crammed full of the best hot chocolate powder I could find. In my case it was a brand that’s laced with cinnamon (I can hear Nikki saying yuck!). Another option is to add your own flavour. I’ve also used crushed up mint matchmakers in the past, which is also delicious.
Rudolf’s hair is the Mexican equivalent of a Malteser, with the added bonus of a coffee/ caramel taste. These melted perfectly in the hot choc!
I added these ingredients to a cellophane bag and tied it off with brown pipe cleaners (his antlers), added sticker eyes and a red nose and voila!
My personal fave is hot almond milk but you can of course use any kind of milk.
Yoga anywhere can be a powerful tool for exercise, relaxation, and spiritual meditation. However, yoga holidays in a beautiful location like so many around Spain can be particularly impactful. The chance to get away from home, spend time at a beautiful destination, and focus solely on yoga and wellness is something that can’t be replicated. However, we could be getting closer to trying.
This is because virtual reality is becoming a more regular part of our everyday lives – slowly but surely. A mere concept several years ago and a high-end form of entertainment just two years ago, virtual reality is now moving rapidly toward becoming mainstream. Headsets, at least at the lower end, are affordable, and digital developers are coming out with all sorts of fascinating and enjoyable experiences using VR.
But what does this have to do with yoga? Not a whole lot, at least directly. However, as virtual reality expands as its own category in the tech industry, we are beginning to see new types of experiences that it can bring to life. And, more and more, those experiences are approximating real life.
Augmented reality has actually made this clearest. AR is a newer phenomenon that has come about via popular mobile devices. It requires only the device to work, and it works such that when you look at your phone screen, you can see the area it’s pointing at – complete with some digital fabrications. For instance, you might imagine a Super Mario game in which you look through your phone to your living room, only Mario is jumping around on your coffee table.
One of the first apps to emerge via this technology was a program called AR Runner, which has been described as Pokémon Go, “but instead of Pokémon Go, physical fitness.” The app shows the area ahead of you, but causes digital checkpoints to appear, challenging users to run through them in faster and faster times. It may not be the most practical way to exercise – but it’s one of our first examples of a mixed reality technology directly dealing with “real world” fitness.
Where virtual reality is concerned we’ve seen less involvement of the real world, as opposed to the building of wholly invented digital environments. And yet one piece speaking to how VR will change the gaming landscape pointed out the potential, posing the question: who knows where else these environments could take you? It suggests underwater, the surface of the moon… so why not foreign countries? An existing focus on creation could quickly become a focus on travel, such that people can “enter” VR and find themselves at a very real location across the world. It’s not quite teleportation, but it’s at least visually close!
And this is how some of those great holiday yoga spots, not just in Spain but all over the planet, could become available to all of us. Of course it won’t be the same. A yoga holiday is about a total experience, and many of us would prefer it the traditional way. But people using VR devices at home could at least simulate portions of these experiences, finding themselves in new places, with professional instructors and beautiful surroundings.
It’s an intriguing idea to say the least. It will by no means replace the need for genuine yoga holidays, but it could make your everyday home yoga practice come closer to those experiences.
These are my new all time favourites. Salty and sweet, and simply delicious.
If you are trying to eat healthily, then these are the perfect treat. Move away from the chocolate aisle in the supermarket and make your own sweets. You know exactly what ingredients are going in, which means no nasty additives or preservatives.
As with all my recipes, they are very simple to follow and you can substitute many of the ingredients for easier to find items.
125g Pecans (I used brasil nuts)
Maple syrup (I used honey)
A few drops Vanilla extract
A pinch Salt
200g Dark chocolate
Blend the oats, dates, vanilla, salt and maple syrup in a processor.
Add the peanuts to the mixture, leaving them chunky
Roll the dough into balls
Dip into the melted dark chocolate and leave to cool on parchment paper
Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks and in the freezer for 2 months.
In yoga classes all over the world, certain practices and norms of behavior will seep into your being, and how you live your life. Yoga, like any other practice, is a discipline, and requires your complete participation, endless enthusiasm and child-like curiosity. Surely you want to be a better person today than yesterday? So, if you are prepared to put the work in, yoga will help you on your way to becoming more, ‘Dalai Lama, ‘ – to becoming a happier, more joyful and grateful human being. Go on, get your yoga groove on.
1. Competition is for horses not yoga artists – ‘yoga is a work in, not a work out.’
At school I was an excellent but unwilling athlete. I simply hated competing, and I would stress and worry for weeks before an event. I eventually gave it all up completely to the annoyance of my teachers. And that’s one of the many things I like about physical yoga. You celebrate your uniqueness and you let go of competition, of comparing, and of trying to be better then anyone else. How can you compare two completely different bodies anyway? With yoga, you celebrate your gorgeous individuality and being YOU. When you focus on what you are feeling moment to moment, and turn your gaze inwards, you will also be more present in your life off the mat. You will enjoy the little things more and you won’t sweat the things that don’t warrant your attention. It’s a given that with a regular practice, you will become stronger and more flexible, but as a result of a regular practice, and not because you have pushed yourself or strived. The aim of yoga and a yogic life is total presence, absorption and acceptance of everything, exactly as it is, exactly as it is playing out in the present moment.
2. No need for speed. Be more snail.
I was born running. Through sheer habit, I’ve always done things quickly. I walked quickly, spoke quickly and ate quickly. I generally rushed around from one thing to another, in an effort to get where? – Nowhere. Lots of yoga styles are also super brusque, fast and mechanical, and IMHO do not allow sufficient time to breathe properly, let alone to transition safely between and within poses. As a chronic, back pain sufferer, I know only too well, how careless movements affect my back. Now, instead of rushing around, I choose to be more snail, to move in a more slow and controlled way, creating smooth transitions between postures. It’s not easier. In fact it’s more challenging, precisely because the movements are slower and rely less on momentum. If you’re a habitual rusher and a pusher, choose a yoga style, which emphasizes slowing your ass down, and caring for your body, your spine and your joints, both today and for the future. By moving more slowly in class, flowing gracefully, movement to movement, you will naturally do the same off the mat. There’s no better place to be, than right here, right now. Smell the roses, feel the breeze on your skin and go on a go-slow.
3. Don’t Be a Dick – Respect others, their differences and their space.
It often appears to me in this hectic world, that we have forgotten what life should be about. That life is a gift of love and joy, and that we should feel happy to be alive. With consumerism and materialism, we have become more selfish and more separated than ever. In a typical yoga class, however, we show love and respect for each other. We aim to arrive early, respecting the teacher and fellow yogi’s. We respect each others space and we neatly place back any materials used, considering who might use them next. We appreciate each other. We revel in each others differences and we celebrate how many different people can come together, in one space, to share an experience. Being more conscious of your conduct, impact and your effect on others in class, you will naturally show more respect and compassion, the cornerstones of yoga, beyond your mat.
4. No-one Likes a Clever-clogs. Be a humble bee.
There are so many things in life that can separate us, like language, religion, age and lifelong conditioning. Yoga celebrates all of that and brings us together to celebrate the joy of life, of being a human being ; of living on the same planet, with the same pressures, stresses and challenges. Physical yoga is a personal practice that you adapt to meet your daily needs. You enjoy and embrace the brilliance and intelligence of your body; it’s quirks, asymmetries and how it changes, through the different stages of life, and even through the changing seasons. A regular practice does lead the aspirant to be able to do more physically, but it also brings with it a calmness and a humbleness, that few other activities can. Although you might feel great when you conquer a posture you’ve been practicing for months or even years, your practice has taught you to stay present. Humility is a state of not thinking you are better than others. Being humble, modest and grateful are attributes of good yogis. In life too, you will be more humble and will empathize more with others, because you know that the bottom dollar is that we’re all just the same. Be loving. Be kind.
Be More Snail, like the French!
A study conducted in Europe compared the rate of heart disease between the French, who have a low rate, and Austrians, who have a higher rate. In an effort to explore why, a group of Austrians were put on a diet similar to the French. But there was very little impact. Researchers then looked at the speed at which both groups ate. The Austrians took 10 minutes to finish a meal, while the French took their time and finished in 40. They found that eating more slowly helps the body to assimilate food properly and be nourished by it. Conversely, scoffing your food like there’s no tomorrow, can launch an assault on your digestive system, that renders it much less able to do its job properly.
With the development of so much technology, the pace of life has sped up crazily, and choosing to slow down has become almost a radical decision. Like nearly every other aspect of modern life, the trend in yoga over the past decade has been to go faster and faster. While I believe that there is not just one style of practice that’s right for everyone, I also believe that moving more slowly, savouring each centimetre of each movement, each sensation and each breath, has the potential to take your practice to a new, more sensitive, more meditative level, that can only seep into your other activities.
1. Build more strength
It’s not easier going more slowly, in fact it’s just the opposite. Your muscles have to work much more intensely when you move and transition slowly, posture to posture. Your muscles work less when you rely on constant momentum, and you put more pressure and stress your joints. In my classes, I suggest you move slowly, trying to be more ‘cat-like’ than mechanical.
-To try to seamlessly, move into, and move between your poses, mindfully, like you’re moving in slow motion, rather than in an aggressive or angular way. Try it for yourself. Move a few times from child’s pose to half plank. Do it several times. Now try it again but focus on moving super slowly. From Childs pose, and on an inhale, focus on the front of your sacrum lifting off your thighs, moving upwards, and then forwards, like cat pose, and slowly lengthening the front body, with a ripple, or opening an accordion effect, until your shoulders arrive over your fingertips. Which feels better? By focusing on the front structure of the body, you are also supporting the structure of your back.
2. Breath Awareness
The breath is the most important aspect of your practice, so it’s a no-brainer that choosing to move slowly allows you to better focus on it, rather than focusing on just the movements, when the breath plays second fiddle. The benefits of a slow, unhurried pace balances your body and your mind, and helps you to taste the practice rather than just swallow it in one. Simply, your yoga practice does not need to be rushed. We already spend too much time flitting around from here to there, fitting everything in, that moving ‘more snail,’ provides a much-needed,’ breath of fresh air’ for the nervous system.
3. Less injuries
Lots of yoga teachers have injured themselves through yoga by pushing their bodies too far and rushing through the practice. The quickest route to getting hurt is by moving at a pace that is simply too fast to pay attention to what’s happening. Moving slowly allows you to feel what’s happening in your body, to be aware of, and to make adjustments and make modifications. Rushing to get somewhere in your practice can stress your nervous system, which means you might actually leave class more stressed than when you arrived.
I have always done things quickly. I used to eat fast, talk fast, walk fast, and I was a sprinter at school. I have been consciously working on slowing things down, not only in my yoga practice, but in my life. I remind myself to savour every moment, to savour my beautiful walks with my dog and to savour the beautiful food I eat.
How can you slow things down and be ‘more snail,’ on and off the mat? Why not join Feel Great Breaks and take your practice and your life to a new, snail pace.
Enjoy the journey. Life’s just too damned amazing to rush through it.
A big shout out to my buddy Charlotte for getting me onto this. I was sceptical at first, but I absolute love the stuff. Such a comforting night time drink.
The curcumin is turmeric has been proven to be as effective as an anti-inflammatory as prescription medications, but without the toxic side effects. Further, research suggests turmeric may be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohns and ulcerative colitis.
There’s also evidence that curcumin intake may prevent cancer, particularly of the digestive system, such as colon cancer. Large numbers of studies indicate that curcumin has the ability to reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors (angiogenesis), Decrease the spread of cancer (metastasis) and help destroy cancer cells.
In a saucepan heat the water, turmeric and black pepper until it forms a thick paste, stirring and cooking for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the coconut oil. Your paste should now resemble wet sand. Transfer the Golden Paste into a glass jar with a lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Add 2 teaspoons of the paste to warm milk of your choice. My fave is oat milk, but try it with almond, soy and rice milk too.
www.feelgreatbreaks.com- yoga and well-being holidays
As a 48 yr old, young at heart woman, I had reached a time in my life where I wanted to do something for myself. My daughters were all grown up and didn’t need me accompanying them on holidays anymore, which meant I had regained my freedom. I decided I wanted to combine my passion for adventure with my love of yoga. So, I started making enquiries with a bit of trepidation. I came across a company who were very sympathetic to my desire to something by myself but also feel safe. So, after some careful consideration I booked a trip with Feel Great Breaks, in Denia Alicante. I cant praise Nikki and Jess enough for their warmth and hospitality, as well being very responsive to emails before my trip to ensure I was picked up from airport, etc. As I sat on the train to the airport I felt this enormous sense of independence and excitement as to how the trip would pan out.
Well, from the moment I landed in Alicante and met 3 lovely ladies, who I shared my cab with, I felt totally relaxed. One of the ladies, Maria, had been to this retreat before and loved it so much she brought along a couple of friends. They became my adopted family. Upon arriving at the retreat we were greeted with big warm hugs and smiles from the gorgeous Jess and charming Nikki. They made us feel at home with their little touches, like bringing us hot drinks in the morning to wake us up with lovely inspirational messages. The food was so good for you but at the same time so so tasty. Evenings out in the town were filled with tapas, wine and lots of chat. The yoga itself was so invigorating yet spiritually relaxing. Nikki would read us poems, one of which I fondly read regularly and tell friends, as one of my ‘memories’ of my amazing trip. At the end of our trip we were given little gifts by our hosts, all good for you but made with love by their fair hands.
If, like me you are ready to go and explore the world and get to meet new and exciting people, then this is the best holiday for that. You are in the safe, beautiful hands of Nikki and Jess, in stunning surroundings with great tasting food and delightful company. I for one will definitely be returning.